As Matt and Hugh get another chapter closer to concluding The Tangible Kingdom, they explore the issue of communion…no, we’re not talking the celebration of the presence of Jesus in the sacrament but rather that which we (followers of Jesus) do as we interact with God in worship, listening and soul formation. Here’s a bit of what they have to say:
“most of us learned to view communing with God as primarily happening in either a church worship service or in our own personal devotional time…we think it is shortsighted and historically ignorant to assume that every time Christians met throughout history, they had a stage, trained singers, overheads, and well-choreographed vocal worship to help them connect with God…”
As the authors do their journey with fellow Sojourners in the community that they call home, they do embrace an active life in reading scripture. They do adhere to a discipline of only reading small sections or scripture at a time…primarily for the purpose of meaningful connection with the text without overloading people with entire books or chapters of scripture. In addition, they do “gather” for fellowship and worship…it is simply that, “we just don’t care how many people gather, or when, or for how long.” The gatherings that Hugh and Matt promote are mostly focused on gathering for a missional purpose. Without an apology or excuse, they exclaim:
“we advocate that they (church planters) launch people and add gatherings as needed…the key is to not let your gathering more than it is supposed to be, nor to let people depend on the gathering for things it wasn’t supposed to provide in the first place (“come here to get what you need”).”
Gatherings have their purpose…but they need to focus on mission…mission creates the meaning and context for the gathering…then the gathering becomes more about connecting people, storytelling, vision casting and celebration instead of trying to "do" what people should be doing in a normal flow of life on a daily basis…that being, worshiping God, praying, giving, etc.
Finally, within their context, Matt and Hugh promote a kind of spiritual “retreat” experience through a series of communal gatherings called, “soulace”. Each soulace is for the purpose of calling people to find commonality and communion with each other through shared disciplines in scripture reading, silence, prayer and reflection. Tomorrow we'll finish up the journey…it has been going on for three weeks. So, more to come!